Editor's Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on May 15, 2020
One of the most valuable things about our work at EcSell is that we use data as the guiding force for our work. We don’t just guess, use our own personal experiences, or philosophize about the impact of sales coaching. Instead, who we are and what we do is based on empirical evidence.
One of our main sources of data is The Coaching Effect Survey. Part of this survey asks reps to tell us what they believe their manager does best as a sales manager, or coach as we like to call this role. By analyzing what a rep perceives their manager does best, we have a window into understanding what manager behaviors reps feel benefit them the most. In other words, when we know what behaviors our reps value in their manager, we know which manager behaviors make the biggest impact.
The results have been finalized and here are the top 10 themes or behaviors that emerged from this data:
The most important sales manager behavior that sales reps tell us is important centers simply on coaching. This includes coaching strategies like providing feedback and training, giving advice, role playing, and offering educational opportunities. A critical best practice is holding regular 1:1 meetings.
Second, reps report communication as highly valued. Behaviors in this theme include sharing of information, giving background, explaining the reasons behind personal and corporate actions and active listening.
3) Leading Sales
In third place, reps report that good sales managers are also sales leaders. These managers demonstrate good sales practices, create and practice good sales strategies, help with problem accounts, close deals and help acquire new business.
Sales reps also tell us that good sales managers are managers that are effective motivators. These managers give encouragement, praise, and make an environment where reps feel compelled to give their all. I highly recommend this Motivation Whitepaper which digs deeper into this behavior.
Behaviors that work to build collaboration and synergy between reps and managers was the fifth most often mentioned theme. Here, reps talk about the value of sales managers who are open to new ideas, involve the team in decisions, are approachable with problems, and who foster teamwork.
6) Creating Interpersonal Connections
Reps report they want managers who extend themselves personally and professionally to their reps. Managers can do this by demonstrating they care for their reps as individuals, reacting appropriately in difficult situations and showing reps that they understand how they work. Here's a blog that will give you more ideas on how to build stronger relationships with your team members.
7) Providing Autonomy
Next, reps tell us that autonomy is important. Sales managers who excel at this provide their reps some latitude while also holding reps accountable to their actions.
8) Knowing the Industry/Product
Knowing your industry is also important. Reps see the value in managers who hold knowledge of either their particular sales industry and/or the products being sold.
9) Sharing Creativity and Insight
Coming in ninth are behaviors relating to the idea of the manager being a source for the generation of new ideas or for problem solving. Responses here included thinking outside the box, having good ideas, being creative, playing the role of a counterpoint or sounding board, or offering a fresh perspective to the situation at hand.
10) Being Keen to Client Needs
Completing our list is a theme comprised of behaviors indicating that the manager is keen or astutely aware of client needs and/or being concerned with customer satisfaction.
I’ll spare rambling on about why this information is important and just end with this quick conclusion. As sales leaders, the hours in the day often do not accommodate their good intentions or desires. When opportunities are presented where a manager can contemplate their contribution to their reps’ success, this list might come in handy.
Not only can it serve as a guide for creating your own inventory of strengths and weaknesses but can also serve as a guide to prioritizing educational and developmental to-do's. This data tells us what’s important to reps – how do you measure up?
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